Hal Smith
La Jolla, California
Updated 6/13/07

Drummer Hal Smith became interested in ragtime in the 1950s when he discovered 78s by Johnny Maddox, Marvin Ash and others in his father’s record collection.

Though Hal did not become a pianist, he has enjoyed playing ragtime on drums since he took up the instrument in 1963.  Since then he has been privileged to play with legendary pianists such as Wally Rose, Pete Clute, Knocky Parker, Burt Bales, Dick Wellstood, Trebor Tichenor, Bill Mitchell, Ralph Sutton and Dick Hyman.

In 1987, Hal became the regular drummer with the Butch Thompson Trio.  He joined the the Ray Skjelbred Quartet in 2002 and the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio the following year.  In addition, Hal continues to drum alongside such notable pianists as Paul Asaro, John Royen, Jeff Barnhart, Neville Dickie.

He has also worked with many of the best contemporary traditional jazz bands—including the South Frisco Jazz Band, Original Salty Dogs, Dukes of Dixieland, Jim Cullum Jazz Band, Grand Dominion Jazz Band, Black Eagle Jazz Band, Silver Leaf Jazz Band, Hall Brothers Jazz Band, Soprano Summit, Banu Gibson, Climax Jazz Band, Waldo’s Gutbucket Syncopators and dozens more.

Hal’s own bands have spanned a wide range of musical genres=s from San Francisco style jazz (Down Home Jazz Band, Frisco Syncopators) to swing (Rhythmakers, Roadrunners, Hal’s Angels) to Rockabilly (the Hayriders—his current band).  All told, Hal has recorded over 160 LPs, CDs, tapes and videos.

Currently, Hal continues to work with Butch, Sonny and Ray, plus the Yerba Buena Stompers, Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band and occasionally with the Titanic Jazz Band.  For special occasions, He assembles “Blue Voo”—a Kansas City-style swing sextet that includes Sonny on piano and vocals and Hal’s wife June on acoustic rhythm guitar.   In addition Hal plays Country and Western with the Cash Kings and Big Rig Deluxe and blues with Blue Largo, the Robin Henkel Band and the Johnny Rover Blues Band.

He is President and assistant director of America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society in San Diego—the organizers of the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival.  He also teaches drums at the AFCDJS Adult Jazz Camp.

His articles have appeared in the Mississippi Rag, American Rag, Just Jazz (U.K.) and the Bulletin of the Hot Club of France.

Hal has several hobbies, including the Old West and the War Between the States.  But hobby #1 is Railroads.  He is a member of nine railroad historical societies, collects railroad books, DVDs, videos and memorabilia and has traveled as far as Shreveport, just to watch trains.